Our work lives and personal lives are full of relationships; both good and bad. These relationships are key in helping us to either rise to the helm of affairs or champion our journey wherever we find ourselves. Such relationships may come in different forms: The Mentor Relationship, The Sponsor Relationship, The Advisor Relationship and The Coaching Relationship. In this article, we will look at the one of these relationships – the mentor relationship – and its role in shaping businesses positively with regard to growth and consolidation.
According to Leadership Management, a mentor in the workplace is someone who is capable of providing guidance to a less-experienced employee, the mentee. A mentor can be an employee of the same company, or even a professional from an external company. Mentors are an important part of personal and professional development. They are guides through times when people need someone that is able to point them in the right direction. Good mentors are enthusiastic people, enjoying the role they play in helping others achieve their goals.
Mentoring in an organization is a quick and effective route available to businesses when it comes to integrating fresh employees into the organization as effortlessly as possible. These measures have the potential of being more than an onboarding tool and should be utilized more appropriately and holistically. Powerful and effective mentoring programmes not only provide requisite aid for fresh employees, but also assist in fashioning a warm, open, inviting and engaging culture that energizes all employees to share their thoughts and ideas for leveraging and scaling the business and its potential. Mentoring in an organization also fosters goal-setting. A Harvard Business study found that there is a direct correlation between goal-setting and success. It said that 14% of the people who have goals are 10 times more successful than those who do not have or set goals. A new Accountemps report reveals that 93 percent of the workers surveyed said goal-setting is important to their work performance, yet for some professionals, those discussions with managers never happen.
For employees, mentors can be very important. What then should you look for in mentors? Ashira Prossack who writes about leadership trends in evolving workplaces in Forbes, 2018 discussed 4 things you can consider when looking for a mentor:
Your mentor is someone who you will be working closely with. You have to be compatible with this person otherwise the relationship can feel strained or forced. It does take a bit of time to get to know someone, so do not discount a relationship too quickly, but pay attention to any cues that could indicate long term conflict. Do not be afraid to voice your concerns or end the relationship. Chances are, you and your mentor are both feeling the same way. If you have been assigned a mentor through your company or a programme, you may feel like you have to stick with that person. Most of the time that is not the case, and if you explain to the company why you do not feel like the mentor-mentee relationship will be successful, they will be happy to match you with another mentor.
A mentor helps you step outside your comfort zone, so this person should be a bit outside your comfort zone as well. You do not want a clone of yourself or your best friend as a mentor. You need diversity to make sure you are getting a true different perspective on things. Do not be afraid to have a mentor who is younger than you, looks different than you, thinks differently than you, and is not necessarily the same gender as you.
It is not about finding a mentor with the most years of experience or the biggest title. It is about finding a mentor with the knowledge and expertise to help you on your journey. You want a mentor with enough experience to help you navigate through any challenges you are facing, but that does not always mean someone with the most years of work on their resume. If your mentor has been in a similar situation to you and has worked their way through it, their title or years in the workforce become irrelevant.
You will be telling your mentor things in confidence, so trust is of utmost importance. This trust should go both ways, as the relationship will be the most successful when they trust you as well. Build on this mutual trust to get the most out of your relationship. Take things slow and establish some ground rules up front to avoid any conflicts. After a few sessions you will get to know each other better and you would have learned each other’s communication styles. Once a solid level of trust is established, you will be able to really move forward.
SmallBusinessChron, highlights four major benefits for establishing a Mentorship programme at your workplace. Firstly, a mentorship program helps chart a better career path for the individual. For the mentee, the advantages of having a trusted mentor can be innumerable. Particularly at the outset of a career, learning the ropes from someone who has been there is extremely valuable for success and advancement. A mentor can teach about the responsibilities specific to a job role or the state of an entire industry. He or she can also teach about the ins-and-outs of a company’s organizational chart, policies, practices and business methodologies.
Secondly, a mentorship programme at the workplace can be of immense reward for the mentor as well. Mentors can take pride and to some degree a bit of credit with respect to the work of their mentees. With an open mind, mentors can also learn much from their young charges. A business veteran who has been in the business for decades might not necessarily understand the utility and benefits of the internet as much as a digital native. By creating a symbiotic relationship with the mentee, he or she can be abreast with all the latest trends and their positive impact on the business.
Another benefit is that it can establish a multi-generational culture. As mentor and mentee develop their own relationship, they help create and perpetuate a positive company culture that combines the best qualities of the individuals, regardless of their age. Maybe an older worker has a terrific work ethic and arrives early every day to accomplish tasks in a timely manner. What a great role model. However, that younger worker probably brings passion and enthusiasm to the workplace. What a great reminder to love what you do as well.
Last but not least, it can help create an expansive network by connecting the mentee to a professional network, to which he might never have been exposed. Personal introductions are powerful career collateral, especially for someone just starting out. A mentor can also write a recommendation for his/her mentee’s LinkedIn profile for all the world to see.
Many leaders, managers and businesses are increasingly seeing the benefits mentoring provides and are willing to share their wealth of knowledge in helping build individuals and teams for their enterprise to flourish and succeed.
In order for these relationships to be rewarding, we must kick them off with a solid foundation. Here are my thoughts on 4 strategies leaders and businesses can adopt for achieving success with mentoring in the workplace.
- MATCH MENTORS AND MENTEES
To make a good match, you need data. One way to gain information is to create a questionnaire that asks interested employees about their career objectives, communication styles, and what they are looking for in a mentor or mentee. Then pair them up according to their responses. Successful mentor-mentee pairings are those where the participants have similar interests and personalities, as well as complementary goals.
- BUILD STRONG MENTORING PROGRAMMES
Make mentorship a mainstay in your organisation’s culture. Promote it during the recruitment process and start matching new hires accordingly to make sure they succeed. This requires planning, internal marketing and training.
- ESTABLISH ROLES AND RESPONSIBILITIES
Mentoring relationships should, from the onset, have a clear delineation between their role as mentors and the danger of being pigeonholed as a supervisor. Mentors supply advice and guidance; they do not give work assignments or instruct mentees on how to do their jobs. After they are paired up, they must encourage the relationship by staying in regular contact. Check-ins by email or phone are fine, but occasional in-person meetings are critical.
- ENGAGE TEAM IN GOAL-SETTING
Companies gain immensely when employees have clear goals that assist them in meeting the overall business goals. Employees who can envision clear future with an organization and feel aided and encouraged in their professional endeavors are more likely to stick with a company for longer. Mentors can do this by providing access to training and development opportunities and also offering feedback and constructive critique on performance and praise for exceptional work.
Mentoring in the workplace is a mutual dance that benefits both mentor and mentee. It can help consolidate and leverage the quality of work, scale up productivity, shore up employee retention and fashion a more positive and lively work environment.
Are you ready for TRANSFORMATION?
Dzigbordi K. Dosoo: The H.E.L.P. Coach
Dzigbordi K. Dosoo is a Personal Impact, Professional Growth and Influence Expert specializing in Humanness, Entrepreneurship, Leadership and Power – H.E.L.P.
A career spanning over two decades, she has established herself as a Certified High Performance Coach, Speaker, Author, Wellness Expert and award-winning Entrepreneur with a clientele ranging from C-Suite Executives, Senior Management, Practitioners and Sales Leaders spanning 3 continents.
She is the Founder of Dzigbordi K. Dosoo (DKD) Holdings; a premier lifestyle business group with brand subsidiaries that include Dzigbordi Consulting Group& Allure Africa.
Dzigbordi has been featured on CNN for her entrepreneurial expertise. She is one of the most decorated female entrepreneurs in Ghana having being named “CIMG Marketing Woman of the Year” in 2009; “Top 10 most respected CEOs in Ghana, 2012; Global Heart of Leadership Award and, Women Rising “100 Most Influential Ghanaian Women”, 2017.
She can be reached on [email protected] and @dzigbordikwaku across all social media platforms.